Chat Startup Yobongo Gets Acq-Hired By Mixbook

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Yobongo, the startup that creates mobile chat rooms for talking to anyone and everyone nearby, has been acquired by Mixbook.

The entire Yobongo team, including co-founders Caleb Elston and David Kasper, will be moving to Mixbook’s new Palo Alto office, where they’ll be spearheading the efforts to build a mobile app for the photobook- and calendar-printing service. The companies aren’t disclosing the financial terms of the deal, but Elston tells me that it was a mix of cash and stock, and that Yobongo’s investors (who include Mitch Kapor, Dave Morin, Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk, Karl Jacob, Bill Roux, Shervin Pishevar, Freestyle Capital, and True Ventures) are now investors in Mixbook.

Elston makes it sound like he, his team, and his investors are all pretty happy with the deal, but there’s a downside — the Yobongo app itself will be disappearing. It will be pulled from the App Store today, and it will shut down completely in a month or two. Elston admits that he’s “very sad” to be abandoning a product he’s been working on for more than a year, but he says he wanted the team to be working on a project where they have “the most leverage possible.”

“The landscape’s changed dramatically,” Elston says. “Every one of the South by Southwest darlings last year has been acquired. For us to be an independent player in a group messaging space where you have to be everywhere is a steeper curve than we anticipated.”

Elston (who was also the vice president of product at Justin.tv) and some of his team members have an existing connection to Mixbook — they used to work at Scrapblog, which the larger company acquired.

And while you may not have heard about Mixbook (after all, its core audience isn’t serious techies and early adopters), Elston says he was impressed by the company’s numbers. For one thing, it has shipped 10 million Mixbook products. He’s also excited about the possibility of reinventing that experience for mobile devices. The goal, he says, is to create an app that makes it easier than ever to transform your photos into a book — and also into a high-quality digital viewing experience, so it can reach a broader group of friends and family.

“Mixbook’s customers are not geeks — they’re moms, they’re sisters, they’re daughters, they’re husbands who are building things for their families,” Elston says. “They don’t care about the technology at all, and I love that. We can just make the experience be what it should be.”